Types Of Beer And Food Pairing

Creating an excellent beer and food pairing menu in your bar or restaurant can be a huge boost to your profits

Date: Feb 14, 2020

With so many different styles of beer and even seasonal beers to take into account, it can be difficult to come up with good pairings for every beer on your restaurant or bar's beer list.

Creating an excellent beer and food pairing menu in your bar or restaurant can be a huge boost to your profits.

Rather than listing food pairings for each type of beer out there, it's better to learn how to find which flavors on your menu will complement your different types of beer.

The different types of beer vary greatly in their color, alcohol content, taste, and mouthfeel, so if you want to make a good pairing, you must first understand the different styles of beer. Below, we've included a table that you can reference to make a quick pairing.

These are only general pairing ideas, so if you want to create new and unique beer and food pairings, you'll need to fully understand the flavor profiles of each type of beer.

Light Lagers
Light lagers are among the palest type of beer, and they are well known for their crisp and refreshing taste. Most light lagers do not have a strong flavor, and they are rarely hoppy or bitter. Because light lagers have such a refreshing flavor, they're ideal for pairing with spicy dishes, but you can pair these beers with just about any type of food. Here are some ideal beer and food pairing options for light lagers you can try:

  • Buffalo wings
  • French fries
  • Hot dogs
  • Noodles
  • Fried fish

Wheat Beers
Wheat beers are brewed with a mixture of wheat and barley grains, which gives the beer smoother texture and lighter carbonation than other styles. The wheat itself doesn't add much flavor, so many brewers add citrus and other fruity flavorings to the beer. Wheat beers are very versatile, and you can pair them with a number of foods. Here are some ideal food pairings for wheat beers:

  • Buffalo wings
  • Spicy noodles
  • Salads
  • Fruit tarts
  • Pastries

India Pale Ales
India pale ales, better known as IPAs, are one of the most popular styles of beer in the craft brewing scene today. Typically, IPAs have a medium amber color and feature a very bitter flavor. To make the bitterness more palatable, many brewers add citrus or herbal tones to the beer. In addition to standard IPAs, there are also double IPAs, which are made with even more hops and have a strong bitter flavor. Because of the sheer variety of IPAs on the market, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to food pairings. But, here are a few general food and beer pairings that work for all types of IPAs:

  • Barbecue ribs
  • French fries
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Steak
  • Burritos
  • Fajitas

Amber Ales
Amber ales are characterized by medium mouthfeel and colors that range from amber to a deep reddish-gold. These beers have strong flavors of malt, and there are notes of sweet caramel that complement the roasted malt taste. But, these beers do not have an overpoweringly sweet flavor, and many amber ales have a dry and crisp finish. Although the flavor from the hops isn't strong, they give these beers a light and flowery aroma. Due to the dry and crisp finish, amber ales are excellent beers for cleansing your palate. So, here are a few ideal food pairings for amber ales:

  • Barbecue pulled pork
  • Jerk chicken
  • Pizza
  • Brisket

Dark Lagers
There are several types of lager, and dark lagers have a distinct taste. This style of beer is made with roasted malts, and many times they have caramel syrup added to sweeten the beer. The roasted malts give the beer a nutty flavor, and the caramel provides a slight hint of sweetness, although it's not overpowering. Dark lagers are popular in Europe, and they're an excellent complement to hearty traditional European dishes. Here are some examples of ideal pairings to go with dark lagers:

  • Sausage
  • Goulash
  • Bangers and mash
  • Burgers
  • Pizza

Brown Ales
Brown ales aren't as hoppy or bitter as other medium-colored beers, and instead they have hints of chocolate and coffee similar to stouts and porters. Additionally, English varieties of brown ales usually have a dry and nutty flavor. Beer afficionados and craft brewers tend to turn their noses up at brown ales because they lack the extreme flavors and hoppiness that is fashionable nowadays, but these are tasty beers that pair well with many different foods. Brown ales are a versatile option when it comes to food and beer pairings, and they are famous for pairing well with just about anything. That being said, here are a few dishes that complement the rich chocolate and nutty flavors in brown ales:

  • Sausage
  • Roast pork
  • Barbecue
  • Fish
  • Sushi

Porters originated in London, and the original variety were dark and strong, making them popular with the working class. Today, porters are milder and come in a variety of styles and flavors, but they kept their signature dark color, toasty aroma, and roasted flavor. Porters are made with roasted brown malts that give the beer strong notes of chocolate, caramel, and coffee. Although both porters and stouts are thick and silky, porters have a crisper finish than stouts. Porters have a rich and deep flavor, so it is best to pair them with foods that have similar taste and texture. Here are a few examples of dishes that pair well with porters:

  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Mexican mole
  • Barbecue
  • Rabbit, venison, and game meats

Stouts are best known for their black color and dark, roasted flavor that is similar to porters. Despite their appearance, stouts are not necessarily high in alcohol content, bitterness, or flavor, and there are many mild, well-rounded types of stout. This style of beer is usually characterized by strong hints of chocolate and coffee as well as a silky smooth consistency. Because stouts have a chocolatey flavor and relatively low alcohol content, they are the perfect pairing for many kinds of desserts. Here are some examples of the best foods to pair with stouts:

  • Chocolate truffles
  • Chocolate mousse
  • Lobster
  • Barbecue
  • Shellfish

Adding food and beer pairings to your menu can help enhance the flavor of your dishes and bring in more profits. To make the best beer pairings possible, it is important to understand which flavors work well together. Once you understand the flavor profiles in beer, you can make delicious and interesting beer pairings that will accentuate the flavors of both your food and beer. You can also bring out the best flavors in your beer by choosing the right beer glass for each type.

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